The second half of season three, after taking a two and half month break, puts us right in the middle of Fitz’ re-election campaign. But Fitz is not the only character with his eyes on the Oval House.

Scandal-s3ep11Vice President Sally Langston, mourning the death/murder of his husband Daniel Douglass, decides she is running for President as an independent. Sally makes a statement from her VP office explaining what her plans are and that she will remain faithful to the job of VP during the campaign. This, of course, sends Fitz and the rest of his team into a fit. Fitz is really pissed. He throws things at Cyrus, and refuses to listen to Cy, Mellie, or Olivia.

Matters get worse when Fitz wants to ask his old friend, now Governor Andrew Nichols. Andrew was Fitz’ Lt. Governor in California. They know how each other well. Olivia disagrees. There is something in her gut that says this is a bad move. She tells Fitz that the ticket needs more diversity, to which Fitz yells, “I said, that’s all!”

What’s up with this Fitz? He is floating between emotions. When he gets angry, he gets angry! And he usually has a drink in his hand. And then he will be filled with passion for Olivia and want to love on her. Which counters how he acts when he is angry. Why is Olivia still putting up with this? Why is Olivia still hanging on to Vermont? There is a moment when Liv considers quitting, but Fitz won’t hear of it.

Even so, Olivia has the team run checks on Andrew. He comes up clean so they start polling. Olivia’s issue with the polling results is that Andrew polls well with me. They risk the chance of losing the women’s votes. Liv will eventually sit down and interview the Governor herself. She explains that he has a problem – he’s a playboy. He is known for going out with a lot of different women. She is worried it will jeopardize the women’s vote. Liv pushes for an explanation until finally Andrew tells her that he loved once, but let her get away.

That Olivia can work with. That Olivia can understand. But her gut still tells her that it’s not a good idea. Even so, Andrew will end up on the ticket.

Liv thinks Cyrus should convince Fitz to not take on Andrew. In explaining to her why he doesn’t think Fitz will listen, he tells her that Jake Ballard is new Command. Olivia did not know this.

This new information motivates Liv to find her father. She knows where he is. The place where he took her so many times during her childhood, the Marine Corps War Memorial, with the words “Uncommon Valor is a Common Virtue,” engraved on the monument.  The words, a tribute to the men fighting on Iwo Jima by Admiral Chester Nimitz, are words that father and daughter both like and hold in common. Liv tells Rowan that this quote always reminded her of him because of his uncommon valor of letting her be made at him and see him as the monster all these years, when, in reality, her mother was really the monster.

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Rowan, however, is still grieving the lost of B6-13 at the hands of Fitz.

“You’re skipping around in a field full of bombs and mistaking them for daisies… What happened was the man who DEFILED you also DEFILED the organization that I gave my soul to build… President Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III has made an enemy of the WORST kind because I know ALL his secrets. I know where every body is buried. And the best weapon I can use against him calls me Dad.”

This is just another reason why Joe Morton is perfect as Rowan. These monologues that are written for him are good, but Joe Morton gives them life as he speaks the words. In this monologue, Rowan makes it clear that he is going after Fitz (“Start grieving now, Olivia.”) because Fitz took the one thing away from him that means everything to him – B6-13 or Olivia? That is yet to be determined. Father’s advice to Olivia is to run. Get away from it all, which is advice he had given to her before.

In the meantime, David plays the recording he got from an NSA employee of Sally’s phone call to Cyrus for James. David apologizes, telling James that he was right. And now, David wants to take down the monster that is Cyrus Beene, and he wants James’ help.

James starts texting a reporter as “Publius.” (He clearly didn’t say it out loud before he settled on using it.) The whole thing feels too much like House of Cards. Just as Kevin Spacey’s texts to a young reporter appear on the screen, so they use this technique here. They only use it a little bit though, which begs the question, why did they need to use it?

David tells James later on that if they knew the leak was, they might be able to do something. James finally comes clean and says that he is leak. This does not help.

Leo suggests on a television show that Olivia was the President’s mistress. James, as the new Press Secretary, is getting grilled about the affair. Then, a reporter asks about Daniel Douglass’ autopsy, or lack thereof. Olivia doesn’t hesitate. This will change the narrative in the media. Liv runs out to dig up some information about the autopsy. James, too, is getting curious and goes to Cyrus for more information. However, Cyrus sticks to the party line and tells James nothing.

Abby and Huck show up on the coroner’s doorstep with a bag full of questions about the medical report she wrote on Daniel Douglass. The coroner tells them that she’s confident he died of a heart attack. She explains that Daniel was a big drinker and that he smashed his head on the toilet and had a massive brain bleed. Huck can tell that she is lying. But what we know and Huck does not, is that Charlie and Quinn are in the other room holding the coroner’s little boy – the little boy they kidnapped from school. As Huck and Abby leave, Quinn has this look on her face that suggests that maybe she misses them. Misses being a Gladiator. Or misses Huck?

Matching-MellieMellie asks Olivia to meet her for lunch in a very public place. Right away Olivia can pinpoint bloggers and reporters in the restaurant near them and knows that Mellie set this up on purpose. Mellie’s take is that Olivia cannot be the President’s mistress if she and the First Lady are friends. Mellie also gives Liv a list of DC bachelors, urging Liv to start dating one of them publicly to take the heat off of her as the President’s mistress. It’s a smart move. Liv decides that Jake will be her public boyfriend, which is perfectly alright with Jake who is still in love with Olivia.

Sally, in the meantime, is having a bit of a meltdown. She is convinced that the Devil snuck into her and the Devil killed her husband. And its all because she turned her back on abortion. Leo, not sure what to do, goes to Cyrus and shows his hand. He knows that Cyrus helped Sally cover up the murder.

Harrison calls on David for a favor. Adnan Salif from Harrison’s sketchy past is coming into the United States. Harrison wants David to stop that from happening. Later, David calls Harrison and tells him that deportation of Adnan Salif is not an option. Probably because Cyrus pulled all his strings to make sure Adnan showed up in the US. As Harrison gets off the phone, the camera pans around to show that Harrison is visibly worried, maybe even scared. So scared, that Abby catches Harrison sneaking her gun out of her desk. Concerned for her friend, Abby tells him that he is supposed to be one of the normal ones. It is becoming clear that Abby is the most normal of all of the OPA employees. What will this weight do to Abby?

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Later, Harrison is in the office alone when hears someone come in. It is a woman who says to him, “I just want to talk about your future. Our future.” And then she starts kissing him. This woman, played by Nazanin Boniadi (a love interest of Barney’s on How I Met Your Mother) is Adnan Salif. Surprise! The person that Harrison is deeply afraid of is a woman! This raises even more questions about his sketchy, draped in mystery, past.

Jake is settling in as Command of B6-13. He is also concerned with Quinn and her involvement with B6-13. Liv makes it clear to Fitz that she will stay and help get him elected, but she will have a fake boyfriend and a fake life with that boyfriend and that she and Fitz cannot be together. (I feel like we’ve been here before with this, anyone else?)

As Mellie introduces Fitz at a rally where he plans to announce his VP, Sally is on the phone with Leo demanding to know who the VP is. Leo makes a phone call and says to the person on the other end, “I didn’t really know people like you existed. I don’t know to be excited or scared.” As the camera pans around, we hear and see a familiar voice and face. It is Rowan saying, “Both. You should be both.” Papa Pope is going to help the Langston campaign to keep Fitz out of the White House. Does he know something about Fitz that we don’t know? Or is Papa Bear licking some wounds?

As Fitz gives his speech talking about how he looked for a value of loyalty in a new running mate, this exchange takes place between Andrew and Mellie:

Andrew: Every day for 12 years I dreamed of this.

Mellie: Being on the ticket?

Andrew: Being near you again.

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Hold. The. Phone. Is the woman Andrew once loved Mellie? What kind of secrets does Mellie have?